Varanasi: Holy, Filthy and Amazing

This post is part of the ongoing Sunday Travel Selection series. Every Sunday, a new travel story is featured. This month’s theme contains all photo essays that tell the story of country through it’s people. This week, Magda Biskup is our selected contributor.

A visit to Varanasi is an unforgettable experience. It is the most important pilgrimage site of the Hindus and as with many other cities in India it is an intriguing mixture of chaos, filth and beauty. Millions of pilgrims come to the ghats of Varanasi to conduct ritual bath in the holy Ganges. Old and sick come here to wait for death in one of ashrams, as Hindus believe that there is no better death than death in Varanasi.

It is an amazing experience to watch man and women, old and young, poor and wealthy stepping into the Holy River and bathing in concentration and devotion.  You can watch people along the ghats for hours.

About the author:

Magda was born in Poland 33 years ago and this is where she spent 25 first years of her life. For the last 8 years she has been trying to find the right place for herself, which took her first to Malaysia and then to Australia, where she lives at the moment. Six months ago she returned from a 20-month career break trip around Asia and South America. She is a keen photographer and you can see her travel photography on

Want to write for the Sunday Travel Selection? Read our editorial calendar and submission process here.



  1. Known fact. India has both sides, some exciting and some negative. Extremes, in both directions.
    Good article.
    Enjoy the read.

  2. Stunning photos. Good luck finding the ‘right’ place for you to live. We’re searching for the same thing!

  3. Hey cool – we just saw Varanasi on The Amazing Race….I looked over at Shawna, and said we have to see this place!

  4. Great photos. Varanasi is one of those places you can love and hate at the same time, it drives you nuts but it’s so magical…

  5. This post is awesome. I wonder what those tattoos are on some of the women?

  6. Amazing pics….seeing is believing ..but taking pics and the story unfolds….the place is so spiritual that one forgets where to start and where to end…!!INCREDIBLE

  7. Great pics, but as it is included in the title of this post, I’m not seeing the “filthy” part.

    I know people don’t necessarily like to talk about or show the details of the excessive filth of both Varanasi and the river that people are bathing in, but it’s an undeniable part of the experience there…

  8. Pingback: A Dip in the Ganges: The Ultimate Attitude Adjustment | Drew Gilbert

  9. love the photos! moving. haunting. what an amazing land (or river) and what amazing people!

  10. Wonderful photos! Varanasi is an absolutely unreal place to experience. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world where death is such an intricate and involved part of life. Amazing city and your photos have captured so much of its spirit!

  11. So far I’ve been traveling, Varanasi remains one of the most impressive experience I’ve ever had in my life. Your pictures tell the same, thanks for sharing !